Obama: Web Freedom Will be Part of Democratic Platform

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 6:27pm

This week, Republicans made a free and open Internet part of their party's 2012 platform.

On Wednesday, during a visit with some of the most ardent open-Web supporters, President Barack Obama said Democrats will do the same.

"Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too," Obama wrote during an AMA ("ask me anything") on social-news site Reddit. "We will fight hard to make sure that the Internet remains the open forum for everybody -- from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business."

Obama became the most high-profile person to host one of the site's live chats, during which well-known figures take questions live. The site's two most popular AMA's before Wednesday were astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and "Jeopardy" champ Ken Jennings.

As such, many users were having trouble following the conversation in real time, with the sheer amount of traffic causing the page to load slowly, or not at all, from time to time.

Obama was responding to a question, noting that Republicans had included an entire section promising protections for Internet freedom in their platform at the party convention being held in Tampa, Florida.

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, has been a leading Web-freedom voice in the GOP and reportedly pushed hard for the language to be included. Obama promised similar action when Democrats convene next week in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won't stray from that principle -- and it will be reflected in the platform."

Reddit was a hub for activity earlier this year when free-Web proponents rose up in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act and related legislation. Designed to crack down on Internet piracy, online heavyweights from Google to Facebook to Wikipedia protested, saying that it would clamp down on online liberties.

Along with Wikipedia and others, Reddit went dark for a day in protest and regulars on the site (called "redditors") used it to put pressure on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, now the GOP vice-presidential candidate, to eventually come out against the bill, which was shelved without a vote.

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, is planning an "Internet 2012" bus tour to highlight Web freedom issues and urge leaders of both parties to support it.

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